Tag Archives: 3G

DNG #32: Getting mobile broadband (3G/4G) at Tan Son Nhat airport (Ho Chi Minh city a.k.a. Saigon)

My post on getting internet service on mobile in Hanoi seems to get me a consistent stream of traffic, so thought this would be a useful follow-up.

If you’re travelling to Ho Chi Minh City and can’t live without cheap/free internet, you’ll want a local SIM card. While wifi is quite frequently offered at F&B establishments in urban Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh), it’s spotty, and not practical when you’re using the internet to help you navigate.

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Once you’re out of the immigration area, you’ll go down either one of two escalators to the luggage carousels. Pick up your bag(s) if you have any and head out the customs clearance. If you’re at the doors with the larger numbers, you’ll be closer to the shop you need to go to. But don’t worry anyhow, just need to walk a little bit further if you’re at the other end of the (small) Tan Son Nhat airport.

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Immediately after you have your bags pass through the scanners, you’ll pass through some sliding doors. Turn left and walk to the end. Go to the LAST shop.The staff in the last shop speak good English, and will understand your questions and requests easily. Don’t go to the outdoor area where the general public (waiting taxi drivers, relatives, random people) gather. If you have, you’ve gone too far! Not sure if you can u-turn, but you can get the same SIM card in town, I’m sure.

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Note that my personal preference is for Vinaphone. I’ve tried Mobifone before, and the coverage didn’t seem as good. The shop next door (2nd last shop) carries Mobifone/Viettel I think, but I’ll stick with what I know.

There’s a promotion (as of yesterday, 8 May) where you get 5GB of data for 100,000VND. That’s about S$6, or US$5. Pretty damn good deal compared to Singapore.

But I went for the “D1” deal where you buy a SIM card for 148,000VND and you get 1GB of data every day when you SMS “D1 on” to “888” for 5,000VND (S$0.30 or US$0.23). If you exceed that 1GB, you just SMS “D1 on” again and you can do this 3 times a day apparently. (I’ve never exceeded 1GB a day, I think, but just in case…) Don’t worry about figuring out what kind of SIM card you have, what settings you need to fiddle with. Just hand your phone to the ladies and they’ll get you sorted. You’ll also need to hand them your passport for them to make a photocopy.

Happy surfing!

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Hong Kong 2012: How to stay online

Back from my second HK holiday. Less of a newbie though my cantonese still sucks. Dreading to see the credit card bill. Here are some basic tips if you’re heading to stay connected while in Hong Kong:

Telecommunications

I can’t imagine how people used to travel without Google Maps and apps. Compass? Paper maps?? Seriously??? To think I used to do orienteering back in school in the wilderness. Anyway, here are some modern options for the generation that’s perpetually logged on to the interwebs.

1) Roaming with your SG telco (more expensive): You could also get one of those global roaming deals if you’re on M1 (Unlimited Data Roaming) or SingTel (Bridge Dataroam). M1 users have it good. You’re only charged a maximum of $15/day if you bust the data limits. No need to inform M1 of your trip either. SingTel to activate the service BEFORE your trip starts, either by calling them (which I recommend, even if the waiting time can be ridiculous) or using the app (I’ve never gotten it to work). Even when I’ve gotten the confirmation over the phone, I was once slapped with a ridiculous bill after my previous trip to HK. Benefit is you only carry one device, as opposed to 2 (See next option)

Price:
S$75 for 5 days unlimited roaming in HK for SingTel (CSL is their HK partner),
S$15 per day for unlimited roaming in HK for M1 (SmarTone is their HK partner)

2) Prepaid HK SIM (cheaper, more reliable): In this day and age, you’ll probably have a spare phone somewhere at home. Reason for this is that you’ll want to use your current phone as your data device in HK, and stuff your existing SIM card into your spare phone for urgent calls from the boss/clients/wife/… The stinker is that unless you have a dual-SIM smart phone, you’ll need at least 2 devices if you want to remain contactable on your regular number while having access to cheap data. (List of top dual SIM phones doesn’t look promising)

Price: HK$198 3G Rechargeable SIM card deal (approx S$31) gives you unlimited data for HK$18/day (Approx S$3). Also allows for voice calls.

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I got the prepaid HK$198 microSIM from 3 that I used on my iPad, with my Samsung S3 still on SingTel with dataroaming disabled.

Where to find a prepaid HK SIM card at HK airport

Once you clear customs at Chek Lap Kok with your bags, head up to the 7th floor (Departure Hall).

There are escalators, but given you’ll probably be hauling luggage, one of the elevators might be a better idea.

Elevators
This elevator is in the center of the Arrival Hall. Note the 7-Eleven in the background as your reference point.

Once out of the elevator, walk forward towards the shops and make a right. You’ll soon see a 1010 store and a 3 store. There’s a Tissot store (expensive Swiss watches) opposite both of them.

The telco units are just opposite these shops
You’re on the right track! Look opposite…
Step right up
The 3 store

Tips:
– For 3 customers, in case your data connection suddenly goes dead, check your APN setting. It should be imobile.three.com.hk and NOT mobile.three.com.hk. If you really need someone to check your phone, here are the 3 store locations around HK.
– If you need to top up your prepaid 3 SIM card, go to one of their stores instead of the 7-11 because they’ll give you bonus credits at their own stores.
– You can keep your Whatsapp messages coming to your existing phone even when you’ve swapped the SG SIM card for a prepaid HK SIM card. There’s an option when you load up Whatsapp that you can select.

More detailed information on getting a prepaid SIM card at HK airport from BeReady.net (Note error that the stores are on Level 7, NOT Level 6 as they mentioned – There is no Level 6!)

Wifi is available throughout the airport (#HKAirport Free Wifi). Just need to open up your browser and agree to the terms and conditions.

More on shopping and eating to come..